What guides your inner compass? What moves you more, the compliment, or the feedback that suggests improvement? Perhaps it should be some of both.
Recently I was using an experiential learning activity with a small group of people from many different parts of the United States. During the activity debrief I said, “compass” and one of the participants from the Chicago area said, “Wait, say that again.”
Unsure of what he was referring to I asked, “Which part?”
He politely said, “The word compass.”
There was a difference in our dialect. I didn’t notice, but he did. He pronounces the word different from me, more of “come pass.” He wasn’t trying to be a critic, but he did notice something different.
Blend In or Be Different
People often fear being different.
In our workplace, we are often taught to adapt, to blend in, and to be a good fit. Certainly, this has tremendous value. After all, the CEO insists on the hiring manager finding someone who will fit. I am not suggesting that is a perfect plan, but it does often happen.
Since we want to fit, we adapt, we learn that we should blend in. We believe we should be what the organization needs and not who we are. This isn’t necessarily bad, in fact, it is the norm. However, when we give the critic inside ourselves too much power we may lose.
There is risk involved. We may risk politely speaking up in a meeting, risk sharing our knowledge, ideas, or suggestions.
It is the critic we once heard, the person who corrected us. Corrected our language, our thoughts, and guided us to a way of doing things.
This is certainly important in society. It guides social norms and keeps in check what is right from what is wrong.
Does it also stifle our true abilities? Will it slow innovation and limit our contributions?
Our inner compass is powerful, but you are still in control. What guides us is important. The trick is to know when to follow your inner compass and when to choose a different path.
Right from wrong, morals, and ethics, are probably good reasons to pay close attention to true North. Your creativity, ideas for improvement, and the chance to make a positive and impactful difference, you may want to consider a little freestyle.
Your critic is only as powerful as you allow.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.